Monday, March 28, 2011

how to be Mary and Martha at the same time

Whatever you do, work heartily,
as for the Lord and not for men,

knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward.

You are serving the Lord Christ.

Col. 3:23-24


Stumbling into my kitchen this morning, bleary-eyed and achy-boned, I am confronted by an enormous silver basin dominating my kitchen table. Great stacks of plates covered in smears of cream, cake crumbs and oily traces of vingared carrots, lurching towers of gilded tea bowls, chunks of mashed potatoes and apricot glaze, heaping handfuls of greasy silverware. But I am humming to myself as I begin sudsing and scrubbing and wiping and rinsing. My heart is replete. I am content. I am learning how to be Martha and Mary at the same time.

Jesus could have eaten off these plates. In fact, in a way, He actually did.

The ten ladies with names like flowers who sat around my table last night left as hungry as they came. None of the salads or fruit or meat or bread or cake or candy could satisfy their aching insides, and the music they heard was just a taste of what could fill their empty hearts.

Fascinated, they listened to a song I wrote about following Jesus wherever He leads, and then a song in their own language about God’s mercy and care, the same sweet, immanent God Whose presence filled the room as I sang. Chills on their arms, they said. Sweetness in their hearts. Oh, that they would ask: Who is this God?

The chai was a success. And among those hearts sat one, at least, who would know more, who wants to sate her hunger for True Bread and Living Water. She, who faithfully came hours early to help me chop salads and arrange fruit and lay the table, she who is my mother and older sister combined in one loving heart, who encourages all my cultural efforts and praises my American cooking. Would there were more like her-- that this whole group of women would say, Let’s study together. Let’s make this once-a-month party a time of learning, of praise. Let’s seek Him together, in this community, in this safe place.

They stay until almost midnight, talking, laughing, eating chocolate cake with whipped cream and cinnamon, wiping their plates clean like children. The detritus left behind in their wake is considerable.

But, as I wash dishes this morning, mulling the evening over in my mind, the basin is already more than half empty before I realize: This task is not burdensome. Not burdensome! I actually looked forward to tackling my mountain of dishes, because I knew it would give me time to sing and pray. Jesus is here, now. Here, with me, in my kitchen. Turning it holy. Singing with me while I wash and dry.

Suddenly, like turning a surprising corner, mundane jobs have become for me doorways into His Presence. Martha, with suds on her hands, is discovering her Mary heart.

You are serving the Lord Christ.”

When it’s Jesus I’m washing plates for-- and with-- there is only unspeakable joy.


  1. My most recent "holy in the mundane" moments have been singing while I vacuum. It's kinda fun, because with the loud roar nobody can tell if my voice sounds just right or not!

  2. I love your heart!

  3. Thanks, I needed this posts. I always dread the pile of dishes after having several ladies over for a chai. Next time I will try to sing my way through the task

  4. Yes, the next day dishes are a dread of mine. Martha with a Mary heart is a beautiful idea. ;)